Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.

The Trump Administration gave the Tennessee Walking Horse industry some breathing room this week. A regulatory hold stalled a batch of new rules aimed at preventing abuse of the naturally high-stepping breed.

Update: 4:50 p.m.

Authorities in Gatlinburg have now confirmed three fatalities related to the fast-moving wildfires that roared through the mountain town last night. No other information has been released about the deaths except that they were outside of the town of Gatlinburg.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The end of summer is coming soon, so let's go south for the final installment in our tour of offbeat festivals.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: This is Blake Farmer in East Nashville reporting from the annual Tomato Art Festival.

It's an estate sale for the ages. Stuff belonging to Bill Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass," is on sale this weekend just outside of Nashville. As the patriarch of a genre and of a passionate musical family, artifacts from his rise to prominence are in high demand.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A one-of-a-kind statute that criminalized drug use by pregnant women is now on track to expire in Tennessee. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN reports that the so-called fetal assault law didn't work as planned.

One of the most powerful figures in Tennessee politics over the past two decades, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, says he won't seek another term.

Tens of thousands of Tennessee students steadied their clammy, test-day hands over a keyboard several days ago. And, for many, nothing happened.

It was the state's first time giving standardized exams on computers, but the rollout couldn't have gone much worse.

In lots of places, the testing platform slowed to a crawl or appeared to shut down entirely. Within hours, Tennessee scrapped online testing for the year.

The move comes after schools spent millions of dollars to buy additional PCs and to improve their wi-fi networks.

Updated 5:30 p.m.

The long-awaited changeover to computer-based standardized testing in Tennessee won't happen this year.

"Like you, we are incredibly disappointed," Tennessee education commissioner Candice McQueen wrote to superintendents around the state.

There's a school bus driver shortage in districts from Indiana to Florida, and Nashville, Tenn., has one of the most pressing. Nearly a quarter of the city's 550 slots for drivers are unfilled — and that's when no one is sick.

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